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Students participate in virtual mock trial

By  Jordan Kauffman

On Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, the second-year court reporting class at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in Newton, Iowa, staged and participated in a mock trial. Eleven students took the parts of bailiff, clerk, court attendant, judge, attorneys, and witnesses. Our instructor, Cathy Penniston, RPR, CRI, provided the mock trial script and played the role of the narrator/court reporter. Although this activity is included in the CRC190 class syllabus each year, this marks the first time the mock trial was done virtually, as our program has moved online due to COVID-19.

In “The Case of the Stolen Car” — County of Contra Costa vs. Dakota — the burden was on the State to prove that the defendant had taken or driven a car belonging to someone else; that the owner of said car did not give permission to take or drive the car; and that the defendant intended to take away the owner’s right to have the car, either permanently or temporarily.

In addition to playing the individual courtroom roles, our class also acted as the jury. After each side presented its case, our deliberations lead to a hung jury. While the jurors agreed that the defendant, Dakota, had driven the stolen car without permission of the owner, the jury was unable to unanimously agree on whether or not the defendant had intentionally deprived the car’s rightful owner of its use. The judge in this case declared a mistrial, and defendant Dakota was left free (for now) to cruise around in fast red Corvettes – hopefully, next time, the car won’t be stolen!

Jordan Kauffman is a student at Des Moines Area Community College in Newton, Iowa.